One of the more puzzling things to me is how a first place team, or legit contender for the playoffs, doesn't get the fan support it deserves. The Cincinnati Reds
are 25 games over .500. I was watching their game yesterday and was blown away by the scattered empty seats. I then looked up baseball attendance and was stunned to learn they are 16th in baseball, averaging just over 29,000 per game. Where's the support? Now while their attendance is up from last year, that's the best they can draw? They should be averaging at least 35,000, if not more. What else is there to do in Cincinnati anyway? I joke--kinda.
The Chicago White Sox are a surprising 12 games over .500 and sit in first place in the AL central. They are 24th--yes 24th, averaging just over 24,000 per game. And I'm not even going to make the point that the Cubs draw 13,000 more per game. It's common knowledge the Cubs could field a team of monkeys and be among the league leaders in attendance. How many people just pondered the thought of actually seeing monkeys play baseball, and how many Cubs fans thought that perhaps the team may produce a better record if that were the case?
Then you look at teams like the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Rays. Now this is a prime example if you want to discuss contraction. Both teams in the playoff hunt, yet ranked 29th and 30th in baseball attendance, drawing under 21,000. Now I know both teams have had a history of not drawing, but if a city can't support a winning team, then what's the point of their existence? Did you know the Oakland A's have never drawn 3 million fans in a season? Drew 2.9M in 1990.
The other culprit is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their attendance is slightly up from last year, but this team was 15 games over .500 for the first time since guys like Bonds and Bonilla played there. You would think people would flock to see a winner in Pittsburgh. The team actually spent some money, too; their payroll increased from 45M to 63M. Thank you luxury tax. But hey, at least they're putting money into the team. Andrew McCutchen is in contention for a batting title and a MVP award. Where's the support?
Conversely, it's nice to see The Washington Nationals
drawing over 29,000. Now if you want to ask what's the difference between them and the Reds considering similar records. Well, the Nationals drew under 25,000 last year and really haven't had any success in several years. You can make the argument they could be drawing more than 29,000, but I do believe the current numbers will spike as the season goes on. I'm not sure if the same can be said for the Reds.
Now people can talk about the economy and how many people are still without work. I can understand making that claim if you're purchasing expensive tickets from major market teams. I just can't give fans a pass in smaller market towns where the tickets are so much cheaper.
Support your winning teams!